If you paused for even a moment to consider the answer to that question, please read on. The answer should be a resounding, “No.”
As normally intelligent commentators like Bill Maher groundlessly sound off against the vaccine, the Internet is abuzz with reports of potential swine flu parties.
There was some idle chatter about such parties over the summer, but that chatter has now devolved into widespread planning. Although none of these ill-advised parties appears to have taken place so far, scores of parents are debating the wisdom of bringing their children to the home of an infected child. The thinking is that if a child contracts the virus now, he will be protected if swine flu returns in a more virulent form later on.
This may seem like a commonsense approach, but health experts are clear that this thinking is dangerously flawed. According to a flu expert from Cornell University, “This is like the Middle Ages, when people deliberately infected themselves with smallpox. It’s vigilante vaccination — you know, taking immunity into your own hands.”
The H1N1 virus is too little understood to risk deliberating infecting anyone–particularly children, who (along with the elderly) are most at risk for serious complications associated with the virus. According to The New Yorker, “The new H1N1 virus is similar to seasonal flu in its severity. In the United States, influenza regularly ranks among the ten leading causes of death.”
There’s one way to ensure that your child is protected against this potentially fatal illness, and it’s certainly not exposing her to it; instead, you could get her vaccinated. Then you can make merry at all the swine flu parties you want.